Q&A with Ryan Taylor

December 19, 2012 

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Vicar, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church

QUESTION: The Helping Hands Christmas Dinner is coming up again, spearheaded by Mount Calvary Lutheran Church.

ANSWER: It will be Christmas Day from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at Warner Robins First United Methodist Church, 205 North Davis Drive in Warner Robins.

QUESTION: Who’s the dinner for?

ANSWER: Anyone who needs a meal on Christmas, whether they’re homeless, lower income, people who don’t have family around anymore to share a Christmas meal, shut-ins--really, it’s for anyone who needs to or would like to come.

QUESTION: Do you have to do anything ahead of time to come to the meal?

ANSWER: Not really. A lot of people come as groups through area agencies and we would like to know about groups by this Friday, but a lot are individuals or families and will just come Christmas Day. That’s OK.

QUESTION: You mentioned shut-ins so you must make deliveries.

ANSWER: Yes, and if someone would like to arrange a delivery they could let us know by Friday as well so we can plan that. We’ll probably serve 150 meals or more on-site this year and make 250-plus deliveries so we’ll actually be having more deliveries. We’re partnering with Meals-on-Wheels which doesn’t operate on Christmas.

QUESTION: That’s a good number of meals either way.

ANSWER: It’s actually a little lower than previous years, but that’s probably due to the fact we didn’t have the Christmas dinner last year. Christmas fell on Sunday and we weren’t able to use the space. We’ll probably see an influx of more people this year during the final week.

QUESTION: But again, people can just walk in without previous notice, right?

ANSWER: They can. We’ll have a sign outside the church.

QUESTION: How do you get the word out about the dinner?

ANSWER: We have flyers at churches, various agencies and other locations. School counselors know and help spread the word. People can let others know if they think they may benefit from the meal.

QUESTION: How many years has there been a Helping Hands dinner?

ANSWER: This is the ninth.

QUESTION: Each year the meal is managed by Mount Calvary’s vicar.

ANSWER: That’s right. A Lutheran vicar is really an intern, a student pastor who is at the church for a year from July to July. The meal was originated by a vicar here and has been carried on by one since.

QUESTION: That’s probably a bigger project than a lot of vicars get in their year away from school. Did you know what was coming your way?

ANSWER: The vicar who preceded me sent me an e-mail with the rundown on some things and told me there was a thumb-drive in the desk drawer with information about the Christmas meal. I didn’t know until I got here what it really was. It’s a pretty big undertaking.

QUESTION: Worth it?

ANSWER: Absolutely. I’m really glad to get to do this. It’s a joy and a privilege from God to be able to serve people in this capacity. So often you go through school and you’re not thinking so much of the community around you--you’re so focused on school. This helps you keep your focus on people who really have needs, people without means that we can be a blessing to. Warner Robins is kind of shaded by the Air Force and we don’t think of people here being down and out but there are more than you would think.

QUESTION: It has become a community effort, hasn’t it?

ANSWER: Most of our volunteers are from Mount Calvary but there are a lot who aren’t and we do work with numerous groups and agencies. A lot of people call each year and want to be part of doing something for others on Christmas. Of course, Warner Robins First United Methodist is involved and let us use their facilities. They’re perfect.

QUESTION: What’s on the menu?

ANSWER: Turkey, ham, yams, dressing, gravy, deserts, a regular traditional Christmas meal.

QUESTION: Is there a program.

ANSWER: We’re doing that a little different this year. We’re not going to have so much of an organized program as have people around to talk and fellowship and to share the Gospel.

QUESTION: If someone wants to come and bring a group or just let you know ahead of time they’re coming, how do they contact you?

ANSWER: Call the church at 922-1418 and ask for Vicar Ryan.

QUESTION: And volunteer, is it ever too late to volunteer?

ANSWER: People come on the day and offer to help, but if you can, you could let us know ahead of time. Use that same number.

Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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